Building Your Perfect Charcuterie Platter | Locally Inspired + Stacia Carlton Leaks News of NEW Leaside Destination Restaurant

Party season is right around the corner and we all know any good gathering needs a combination of components to create just the right atmosphere.  You’ve got to have a balance in your guest list; some sweet, some salty and some downright spicy to keep the conversation lively.  Likewise your menu has to have some contrast as well… not just flavours, but textures and colours all come together to create the perfect get-together.

This also happens to exactly describe how you should approach the building of a perfect charcuterie platter. There are a few simple guidelines you need to follow and you can create what is certain to become the highlight of your cocktail party.  There are only a few simple components needed. The varieties within those choices however are extensive so…

charcuterie_platter1

Let’s start with your charcuterie where you want to look for a little something from each of these categories;

spicy:  hot genoa salami, chorizo, capicola

spreadable: a paté or terrine

soft and buttery: prosciutto di parma, jamón Serrano, bresaola

hard and thinly sliced. sopressata, mild salami

… to name just a few!

It goes without saying that rounding the platter out with some cheese selections would be a good idea but let’s not go crazy here! A few ought to do the trick and of course it does depend on the size of your board.

As with the meats, cheese also deserve variety and I typically try to have at least one that everyone knows and loves, while keeping the funkier choices like gorgonzola or other blues a bit more modestly portioned so as not to overwhelm some milder options.

Aim for one from a couple of these categories;

Hard: cheddar, parmigiana reggiano, grana padano

Semi soft: gouda, havarti, mozzarella

Soft: brie, goat, feta, camembert,

Funky: Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Stilton

And of course with any decent how-to there are a few do’s and don’t’s;

DO:

– talk to your deli counter people… they know of what they speak!

  • keep your selections in uneven numbers for an attractive design outcome.
  • leave enough room between assortment so as to easily access meats,cheese & spreads with the…
  • … appropriate knife or spoon for each required!
  • bring all contents of platter to room temp AT LEAST 1/2 hour before guests arrive for maximum flavour and aroma
  • offer palate cleansers such as pickles, fruits (dried or otherwise) and/or olives
  • include mustard and honey beside the cheese or meat for which they are intended

DON’T

  • pre-slice your cheese (unless your guests are preschoolers in which case go to town!)
  • buy too many smoky options as the flavour can make everything taste the same
  • try to squish your breads and crackers onto the platter… get out those gorgeous serving dishes hiding in the far reaches of your cupboards.
  • randomly choose amounts of meats or cheeses – somewhere between 2 to 5 oz per guest is a safe bet depending on what else is being served.

THE GOAL: A full, (but not overflowing) lush looking platter which offers an assortment of textures, colours and flavours and of course the comment…”OMG this is the most gorgeous charcuterie platter I’ve ever seen!” Yup that’s the ultimate end goal.

It’s something we can all attain in our own homes and with the help of some great local stores like the Academy of Culinary Arts, Epi Breads, Alex Farms and Cumbrae’s all on South Bayview, we can make it appear to  happen almost effortlessly.

For some further inspiration, coming soon, Val d’Isère, Tinto de Tapas’ winter sister, will be giving us some great examples of how charcuterie platters can be done right along with other Alpine chalet cuisine favourites like schnitzel, goulash and fondue… Look for a profile on Otta Zapotocky’s latest culinary brainchild coming in an upcoming issue of Village Living on your doorsteps in time for the Holidays!


staciacarltonSTACIA CARLTON: is a culinary school grad and food writer.  Find her at www.bestillandeat.com where she provides delicious and (mostly) healthy recipes weekly.

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